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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

EU Council Vote Pushes GM Crop Decision to Parliament

Immediate release (12 Jun 2014)

Press contact: Liz O’Neill tel: 0845 217 8992 email:

Campaign group GM Freeze expressed disappointment today as the European Union Environment Council voted “Yes” on a controversial proposal that could see GM crops planted in UK fields as early as next year.

The UK Government strongly favours GM technology, but the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales are opposed. With two varieties of Roundup Ready maize (modified to withstand blanket spraying with Monsanto’s powerful weedkiller) poised for authorisation, the risk of contamination between GM and non-GM crops is a huge issue. [1]

GM Freeze Director Liz O’Neill commented:

EU Environment Ministers have waved through a deeply flawed proposal to the next stage because Owen Paterson and friends think it’s more important to get GM crops into the ground than to protect people’s right to say ‘No’. The legal basis for so called ‘national opt-outs’ is questionable at best, and even if a country or region does manage to establish a ban they will find it very difficult to protect their fields and food from contamination if their neighbours start growing GM.

Farmers, food producers and consumers should all be able to choose GM-free without fear of contamination. We trust that MEPs will listen to the concerns of their constituents when they get a chance to vote on this dangerous proposal.

Last week GM Freeze published a briefing highlighting the risks associated with cross-border contamination (Contamination Matters – Why GM can’t be managed at a national level [2]), but that is only one of many aspects of today’s vote that is causing concern, as O’Neill explains:

The idea of national opt-outs may sound appealing, but you have to look at the detail. In order to ban a GM crop on its own land each Government would need to begin by negotiating with the company that owns the patent for that crop. GM Freeze believes that our food should be produced responsibly, fairly and sustainably. History shows that you don’t achieve that by handing over control to multinational corporations.



[1] GeneWatch UK, 9 June 2014. “GeneWatch UK PR: Paterson and GM industry work together to open England up to RoundUp Ready GM crops

[2] GM Freeze, 5 June 2014. Contamination Matters – Why GM crops can’t be managed at a national level

Comments from GM Freeze Board member organisations are available here.